When darkness turns to light
It ends tonight
It ends tonight
Just a little insight won’t make this right
It’s too late to fight
It ends tonight,
It ends tonight
– It Ends Tonight, All-American Rejects
Thursday, September 8, 2005
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Nothing was going right. Nothing was going the way he had planned.
“Where’s my daughter?” he demanded of the man standing in front of him—this moron, this useless piece of trash that he’d depended on.
The man—what the fuck was his name? Fuck it, it didn’t matter. He was a number. A piece of flesh. One as useless as the next. No one could get him results. His fucking kid should be back where she belonged—where she should have been the moment her whore of a mother took her last breath.
“The team we sent to get her ran into a few issues,” the man—Ricky? Diego? Oscar?— replied. Was he smirking? Was this bastard standing in his living room, smirking at him? Who the fuck did he think he was talking to?
“Two days ago?” Sonny demanded. He’d woken this morning and looked at a newspaper—he’d been startled to learn it was Thursday. Hadn’t it just been Tuesday? Hadn’t he just left the hospital? He’d thought…he’d lost track of time, was all. He had a lot on his mind.
“Morgan’s gone underground,” RickyDiegoOscar told him. “And taken the woman and children with him. We’re looking, but we should shift our focus—”
“I want my kid back,” Sonny said, his teeth clenched, his jaw aching. Why couldn’t anyone fucking understand how it worked? Once he had Evie, once he had physical possession, Jason would crawl out of the fucking ground and he’d deal then. That’s how it had to happen.
“Let me take this,” RickyDiegoOscar told him, already removing his ringing cell phone from the inside of his suit jacket. He stepped into the hallway, closing the door behind him.
And something clicked in Sonny’s head then. He could remember now—watching this fucker step in and out of the penthouse on phone calls. He was one of the men Hector Ruiz had loaned him when Sonny’s own crew had betrayed him.
If he and Ruiz were on the same wave length—if they were after the same goal—then why the hell did this son of a bitch need to take his calls in private?
Sonny stepped closer to the door, knowing that no one but he and Jason knew that this door—this one door was thinner than it was supposed to be. After the man on the door before Max had betrayed them to Alcazar, Sonny had wanted closer supervision. Had wanted to be sure no one could step out and do exactly what this shithead was doing.
“Yeah, Boss? Sorry about the delay. We have a few leads, we’re hoping to put the kid on a plane tonight.” Another long pause before he spoke again. “What about Zacchara? Yeah? When he’s coming around? That doesn’t give us much—okay, okay. I hear ya. Yeah. Got it.”
Sonny stumbled back from door, his pulse racing, his head aching. He couldn’t focus. Couldn’t put the puzzle pieces together. Ruiz was supposed to get Evie back so Sonny could negotiate from a place of power. He’d promised Ruiz access to the territory, a cut on the tariffs Sonny usually imposed. But—he swallowed. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. She shouldn’t be on a plane anywhere except—
RickyDiegoOscar stepped back inside and strode past Sonny without looking at him, without speaking. Fucking dismissing him. “Senor Ruiz has informed me the deal is off.” He picked up a bag from near the coffee table. “I’ll be returning to Miami, and if I were you, Corinthos, I’d clear out. Morgan made a deal with Anthony Zacchara.”
“A deal with…” Sonny grabbed his arm. “What the hell are you talking about? Ruiz is supposed to get me my daughter so I can get my territory back—”
“You’re a fucking lunatic—” He shook off Sonny’s arm and sneered at him. “I had orders to put your kid on a plane so Ruiz could deal with Morgan directly. Did you really think you could come to us from a sign of strength? Your own men turned on you, your partner fucked your woman and who the hell knows who the brat belongs to? You’re nothing, Corinthos. You’re the only one who doesn’t seem to know it.”
And he was gone before Sonny could even digest half of what he’d said. Evie to Miami? What…
He stumbled up the stairs. He needed Carly. Carly had stood by him. She came with him to the hospital, had come back to the penthouse. She hadn’t left him. She was the only one who’d stuck.
He heard her voice before he flung the master bedroom open. It wasn’t until she spun around, the cell sliding from her hand to fall silently against the plush carpet that he even registered the words she’d been saying.
“Jason, he’s still planning to come after the kids. Are they safe?”
His mind went blank as he stared at the phone at the ground, the small screen clearly showing the name Jason Morgan. He raised his foot and stomped on it again and again, feeling delicious pleasure in hearing plastic snap.
“Sonny, wait—” His wife’s terrified cries broke into the cloud of pleasure. He looked at her then as she backed away from him and started to slide to the door.
She’d betrayed him. They’d all turned their backs on him. Didn’t they know who the fuck he was? He was Sonny GODDAMN Corinthos, and it was time they started to show him the respect he damned well deserved.
“Sonny—” Carly began, but he didn’t hear her. He couldn’t hear her. He was done listening to her lies, to her poison.
Warehouse: Conference Room
Jason swallowed hard as the connection went dead. He’d barely had a moment to speak to Carly, to assess the situation and figure out how to get her out of there before the interruption.
“Jase?” Johnny O’Brien said. “What happened?”
“She—” Jason set his phone down. “She was interrupted.” Damn it. If Sonny had overheard her calling, reporting in—
Carly had called him for the first time the day before as he driven back from a tense but successful meeting in Crimson Pointe. She’d been frantic for hours, worried about her boys, about Jason and his family—but Sonny had locked her in their penthouse—confined her to the upstairs while men came and went.
She had told him that she wasn’t sure what was going on, but that Sonny was worse than ever. He was losing track of time, losing track of hours and days. His moods were swinging back and forth violently—she knew that glass shattering was a common sound now, she’d even heard the thudding and snapping of wood. She couldn’t imagine what was left of their furniture. The terror had bled through her words, but he’d been powerless in the moment to make it stop.
Jason had assured Carly the boys were safe with Courtney—he’d spoken with his ex-wife and both boys just that morning. Evie and Cam were safe, so was Elizabeth. He was going to get Carly out just as soon as he could.
They’d been planning that for most of the morning—trying to design a lure to get Sonny out of the penthouse, knowing that if Anthony was successful with his threats to Hector Ruiz, the men should be clearing out of the building sometime today or tomorrow. But there wasn’t time to wait now.
“Interrupted how?” Max demanded. “Jason—”
“I don’t know. Do we have eyes and ears at Harborview?” He looked to Francis. “Can you find out what the hell is going on?” But he had to act. Carly had risked her life to warn him about Sonny—even if Jason had already known of the continued threat—she had still reached out to him.
But Francis’ phone was already ringing. He answered it, spoke briefly, then hung up. “Ruiz’s men have cleared out. And Sonny—Sonny just left the building. They put a tail on him—”
“But Sonny lost it.” Jason sighed, wishing that something would go his way. “He’s been ditching tails since he was a teenager. I guess he hasn’t lost his touch. Ah. Okay. Okay. Let’s…let’s try to track him down. Someone call Zacchara to confirm Ruiz’s men are clearing out permanently. Max, Johnny—”
“Let’s go check on Mrs. C,” Johnny said, getting to his feet.
Estate: Living Room
Elizabeth sighed and curled up on the sofa with the view out the large bay windows. It had been two days since Jason had left. Cody had arrived to take over security detail, and Tommy and Bernie were in and out of the office across the hall—but no one was keeping her in the loop and she knew better than to ask.
“I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this,” Nadine said from the other end of the sofa. She didn’t look away from the daytime soap on the television in front of her, though Elizabeth doubted she knew what she’d watched. Daytime television had been playing mindlessly since their arrival—Nadine wasn’t one for silence.
She thought she should say something to support Nadine, to make the other woman feel better, but she couldn’t. There weren’t any words she could dredge up at the moment to reassure herself, much less someone else.
“It’s easy to be strong,” Elizabeth said finally, “when the man you love is with you. You can look into their eyes; you can justify the sacrifice more easily when they’re in the room. When I’m with Jason, when we’re with the kids, I can tell myself this is a family worth fighting for. That Jason is the best father for my son, that I am the best mother for his daughter. That together, we’re going to raise two beautiful and amazing children. And maybe we’ll have more because Jason deserves that.”
“But when they’re gone,” Nadine said quietly, “when they’re missing, when you don’t know where they are, if they’re okay—”
“The doubts creep back in,” Elizabeth admitted. “I’m not proud of it. I’m not proud that I only feel strong when Jason’s here. That I’m only certain when he’s with me. I keep telling myself that it’s all worth it. That this is just a bump in the road. That we’ll get through this and come out on the other side.” She rubbed her face. “I walked into this with both eyes open, without any dishonesty, but I think—even after everything I’ve been there—I’m still naive about the men who lead this life.”
Nadine bit her lip. “I’m not sure Johnny is going to be able to stay out of his father’s business forever, which means I have a decision to make.” She looked at Elizabeth. “Are you changing your mind?”
“No,” Elizabeth said after a long pause. “No, I can’t—I’ve tried to be with other people. To live a different life. To be a different person. But I—”
She looked down at the ring on her finger, remembering the promise she’d made him, the pure joy she’d felt that night he’d asked her to marry him.
And she smiled.
“All roads have always led me back here. There’s no turning back. I’ve loved him since I was eighteen years old. That’s not going to change and I’ve stopped trying to make it.”
At the entrance to the room, Bernie cleared his throat. “Ms. Webber, Ms. Crowell—”
“Bernie,” Elizabeth said with exhaustion. “We’ve been shot at together. I think we can be upgraded to first name basis, don’t you?”
The older man flushed a bit. “Ah, yes, well, be that as it may—we thought you’d like to know. Johnny Zacchara called. The Ruiz family pulled their men today.” He paused. “We haven’t…dealt with Sonny yet, so Jason—”
“He won’t be here until it’s over,” Elizabeth finished for him, but some of the tension coiled in her belly had dissipated. Sonny didn’t have armed men behind him—he was alone. This was better. Wasn’t it? “Okay. Okay. Thank you, Bernie.”
“I should be relieved, right?” Nadine said. “Johnny’s dad did what he was supposed to do. But—”
“Whatever’s happening is just going to get worse before it gets better,” Elizabeth murmured. “We’re just in the thick of it now.” She met Nadine’s troubled blue eyes. “No, I don’t think relief is the right emotion. Maybe—”
Sonny was alone now, likely feeling betrayed on all sides. Maybe dread would be the better answer, but that was something else better left unsaid.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
The room was dark but they could see the remnants of the mini bar and the broken wood of the coffee table. The dining table and its chairs were strewn across the room. Though Sonny had often shattered the mini bar, the broken furniture was different. A new sign of rage that made Jason all too aware of the deafening quiet.
Just an hour ago, Carly had been speaking to him on the phone before she’d been caught.
They crept up the stairs and down the dim hallway, bypassing rooms Jason knew to belong to the boys, to the nanny before arriving at the master bedroom. With a glance behind him to be sure that the trio of guards were still with him, he gently pushed the ajar door.
The room was destroyed—clothes strewn from open drawers, the closet gaped open, the mirror of Carly’s vanity table shattered, the various powders, tubs and pots cracked and broken on the floor around it.
And in the corner, in the small space between the wall and night stand, a figure sat, her knees drawn up, forehead resting against them. The fingers that dug into her legs were scraped and bleeding, a thin line of blood seeped from a cut near her temple, her limp blonde hair was stained with blood.
Jason swore, tucked his gun back into the small of his back and rushed forward. “Carly!”
Her head snapped up, the fear in her eyes almost feral. “No! Stop! I won’t go! Don’t—”
Then her eyes focused as Jason knelt in front her, tilting her chin. “J-Jason?”
He checked the wound at her temple—a deep and nasty cut that looked worse than it likely was. There was another cut on her cheekbone and her fingernails were bitten down to the quick. Jesus Christ. “Carly. We need to get you out of here.”
“N-No, if I leave, if he finds out—” She closed her eyes. “No, I have to stay. He told me I can’t go. He’ll kill me if I go.”
“Holy shit,” he heard someone say behind him, but he didn’t look to see who.
“He’ll kill you if you stay,” Jason said, for the first time believing down to his depths that Sonny Corinthos had shattered inside—that what had made his former mentor the man he’d been had vanished somehow. “Carly—”
“I deserve this,” she said softly. “I did this.”
“No,” Jason said forcefully. He gently pulled her to her feet, leaning her slight weight against him. “No, you didn’t.” She may have exacerbated some of the issues—maybe she hadn’t been much help—but none of this was truly her fault. Not alone.
They’d all ignored the signs that Sonny’s issues weren’t just superficial—they’d spent years compensating for his problems, keeping them hidden. How many times that Jason rationalized Sonny’s dark moods? He’d learned how to use them, to work around them.
He’d never bothered to question their existence, to try to and resolve them. Carly had followed his lead. They both shared some of the blame for allowing Sonny to drift so close to the edge all those times without once learning how to keep the edge from appearing.
He motioned for Johnny to come forward. “Johnny is going to take you down to the car, okay?” he told Carly whose initial protest had dissipated. She leaned against the guard, her eyes closed, her face ashen. “I’m calling ahead to the hospital. As soon as they discharge you, I’ll send you to New York. To Courtney and the boys.”
“I tried to stop it,” she told him. “I was calling you. I was going to warn you, but he—” A tear slid down her cheek. “He caught me. He thought I was betraying him.” And then her eyes snapped into focus. “The kids, they’re safe? They’re okay? He was—”
“They’re safe,” he told her, touching her shoulder. “Elizabeth and the kids are safe. Your boys are safe. Courtney and your mother are safe. Let me make sure you’re safe.”
“Okay.” She nodded. “Okay.”
Jason watched as Johnny gently led the broken blonde from the room. “Francis, I want someone with Carly at all times from now on.” He drew out his cell phone and dialed.
“Jason?” his mother’s voice, surprised and a bit worried came on the line. “Jason, oh, I’m so glad to hear from you. We’re so worried. We haven’t heard from you in days—there were gun shots at the house—”
“Everyone is okay,” Jason said, taking a moment to reassure a woman he knew cared for his family, for him. “I promise. I’m coming to the hospital with Carly. Can you—” he hesitated. “I know it’s not your area, but she needs someone—”
“I’ll meet you in the lobby,” Monica said. “Bobbie’s working today, should I call her with us? Is Carly okay?”
“No,” Jason said honestly. “No, but she will be. Thanks.”
General Hospital: Conference Room
“Hey,” Steven said as he entered the room. “You paged me here?”
“Yeah.” Emily faced him, twisting her fingers together. “Jason just called me. He brought Carly to see my mother and he wants to talk to us.”
Steven’s fatigued eyes sharpened. “It’s about damn time. The house was shot up two days ago, Elizabeth isn’t answering her phone—”
“I know, I know.” Emily sighed, pressing her hands to her face. “But we’d know if anything – if it was bad. The fact Jason has waited so long—”
“I wish I had your confidence,” he muttered, collapsing into one of the chairs. “I encouraged her to go for things with Jason. Was I wrong? Should I have told her to run?”
“Others have tried,” she said simply. “She’s tried. You don’t always get to choose the path you take in life. You can shape it, but you don’t pick it. She tried to live a different life, to love a different man. My brother’s life may not be safe, but—”
“When I saw her in California, after Cameron was born…” Steven dipped his head, focused on the table. “She wasn’t the little sister I remembered. She’d lost a piece of herself. I know she was better after therapy, because when she came home, she’d grown up so much.” He looked at Emily. “Ric, Lucky, the son of a bitch who raped her—they broke something inside. I guess I have to decide if that’s worse than the external danger Jason brings to the table.”
“Elizabeth is the only one that can answer that,” Emily said quietly, but she’d be lying to herself if she hadn’t asked herself that question. As much as she loved the idea of her best friend forming a family with her brother—could she live with herself if something happened to Elizabeth and the kids?
The door opened then, and Jason entered. He looked as tired as Steven did, his shoulders a bit slumped. “Emily—”
She rushed across the room to embrace him tightly. “I’ve been so worried since you sent the guards to the mansion, since I heard about the shooting at the house, at the warehouse—”
“Everyone is fine,” Jason told her. He drew back, rubbing her upper arms and looking at Steven. “The kids and Elizabeth are safe. I can’t tell you where they are until…” He stopped and took a deep breath. “Until I figure out how to keep them safe permanently.”
“Until Sonny Corinthos is no longer a threat,” Steven said evenly. “You promise me my sister is okay? That Cam and Evie are safe?”
“I do,” Jason said. “No one was hurt, but I need them out of the public eye for now.” He looked back at his sister. “Will you and Nikolas stay at the mansion until this is over? With my men and the security Edward has there, you should be safe. I don’t think you or Steven are in danger, but—”
“The guy can stay at the apartment,” Steven cut in. “I don’t want to be someone you worry about. Someone Elizabeth worries about. We should both be okay at the hospital.” Emily shot him a grateful look. Steven might not be on board with all of this, but he knew how be a team player when it mattered.
Jason took a deep breath and continued. “I talked to Monica and Alan to make sure things are good here. I’m satisfied with the security.”
“How’s Carly?” Emily asked. “Mom said she’d been hurt. Did—” she swallowed hard. “Did Sonny—”
“She tried to call me, to warn me Sonny was still planning something,” Jason admitted. He stepped away from her, letting his hands fall to his side. “He caught her while we were talking. He—” He stopped, swallowing as if the words were stuck. “He hit her, he threw her into her vanity table—it’s mostly cuts and bruises. Bobbie’s with her now, and I’m having one of my men take her to New York where Courtney has the boys.”
“Jesus,” Steven murmured. “What the hell happened to him? I thought he had some sort of code—”
“A psychotic break,” Emily supplied when Jason had nothing to offer. “It happens sometimes with bipolar disorder. I talked to Lainey, and she said that one of the side effects of someone with a bipolar disorder being treated with anti-depressants is that it helps them remain level during the low points of the cycle, but when they’re going to have a manic episode—”
“It makes it worse,” Steven supplied.
“It amplifies everything that’s bad inside you, every flaw you have, and makes it the worst thing about you. Sonny’s always been paranoid, always sure someone’s coming after him—especially since Brenda.” Emily bit her lip, looking at her brother. “Jason, if you come across Sonny like this—”
“I know it might be bad. I know—” Jason looked away, the words unsaid but they all knew what action he was preparing himself for.
“You might still be able to reach him,” Emily said. “I’ve been trying to read about this—I want everyone to come out of this okay—”
“And if okay isn’t an option,” she continued, “I’ll settle for alive. This isn’t Sonny’s fault. Not really. He isn’t himself, and I don’t want you to have to live with yourself if you have to—” She stopped. “Look, if it’s severe—which it clearly is—Lainey said the best thing you can do is to talk to him calmly, but don’t play along if he’s delusional. As soon as you find him, you need to call the authorities.” She fished in her lab coat for the card she’d been holding. “Lainey is ready for you to call. Sonny needs help.”
Jason accepted the card. “I can’t make any promises, Em—” His phone rang. He answered it, turning away from them. When he returned, the fatigue had disappeared, his shoulders were tight with tension. “I have to go.”
“Be careful.” She leaned up on her toes and kissed his cheek. “Take care of yourself.”
She watched him go, conscious of the fact that it might be the last time she saw her beloved brother alive. “Em?” Steven asked, his hands on her shoulder. “How are you feeling? Should I call Nikolas?”
“I’m fine,” she murmured, pressing her hand to her abdomen, thinking about the child she was going to bring into this world. “We should get back to work.”
“He got here just after you left for the penthouse,” Francis told Jason as they walked from the back of the building towards the charred coffee storage rooms and packing areas. “We did what you wanted—we hung back, made sure he was alone. I don’t think he knew we were here.”
They stopped before the double doors into the primary storage room, a bit charred from the fire. Jason reached behind him and pulled his gun from his waistband, checking the ammunition. “What was his mood like?”
“He was rushing when he first arrived,” the other man answered. “Breathing hard, gun out—he went right for your offices. Looking for you, I would imagine. He was inside his office for a long time. I was going to call then—no one showed up to back him up. He’s been here almost an hour. Nothing.”
Francis caught his arm just as Jason started to ease the door open. “Jase, he was quiet when he came out, but you and I both know Sonny. Quiet isn’t always better. I think I prefer him in a pissed off rage.”
“Yeah.” Jason handed him the card his sister had given him. “You come in with me, but stay behind. I’ll give you a sign—you leave, you call this number and you tell this woman to send an ambulance.”
“I don’t want to kill him,” Jason said, his throat tight. “I don’t. He’s sick. You know that, Francis. He’s always been paranoid, always been selfish, reckless. But he’s sick. And if there’s a chance—”
“No one wants this to go down like that,” the older man told him, his voice rough with a mixture of anger and despair. “We all came up under Sonny, we all promised him loyalty. But, God, do not make me go to that safe house and tell Elizabeth—”
“Francis—” Jason hesitated, before exhaling slowly. “Let’s just…let’s just get this over with.”
When the guard nodded, Jason eased the door open and crept into the large room, with its ceiling still a series of gaping holes, the only light coming from the fading streaks of sunlight as the day slid into twilight, wind rustling through.
Sonny was across the room, near the open door to the loading dock, sitting on a discarded crate. The light spilling in from the moon and the faint lights in the truck yard beyond the next room only revealed his presence—Jason couldn’t quite discern his facial expression.
His foot scuffled over a broken plank from the fire as Jason neared him. He stopped as Sonny started. The older man turned towards him, his face dimly lit by a shaft of moonlight. “Jason?”
His voice sounded weak, even tired. The anger that been so prevalent these last few weeks was absent. Had the psychotic break cleared? Had he returned to himself?
“Sonny…” Jason lowered his weapon, but didn’t put it away. If this was just a ploy, just an act—if something happened to him—Elizabeth and the kids would still be in danger.
“I hurt her,” Sonny said, his voice so weak it almost disappeared in the sounds of the lake behind them. “I never thought—”
“Who?” Jason asked, stopping roughly fifteen feet away, conscious that Francis still stood behind in the shadows where Sonny couldn’t see. “Who did you hurt, Sonny?”
“Carly,” he sighed the word. “You ever step outside yourself, Jase? Rise above your body and watch yourself do things? Commit horrible acts? Say terrible things?”
“Is that what’s been happening to you, Sonny?” Jason asked. Be calm, Emily had told him. He could do that. He’d done that for years.
“I don’t know, maybe…” Sonny closed his eyes. “She wanted to leave.”
Jason frowned, stepped closer. “Sonny—”
Sonny raised the gun Jason hadn’t seen until then. Jason froze in his tracks as his former friend pointed the barrel at him, the aim at point-blank range. “But then I thought…maybe you should be the one to go.”